Blaze adds to fire tally

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- As firefighters ripped apart a burnt mobile home on North Mock Road Monday night looking for hotspots, they knew it wouldn't be their last.

With temperatures plummeting to near record levels over the next 48 hours and at least three homes already damaged by weather-related fires, fire crews are on high alert, Battalion Chief Marty Leverett said.

Speaking to reporters outside the mobile home where firefighters were working Monday night, Leverett said that preliminary indications were that vagrants had caused the fire that all but gutted the already-vacant structure.

"That's what it appears to be at this point," Leverett said. "And it looks like it was started in the rear of the structure."

For fire crews, more cold means more fires especially in vacant structures which provide a tempting, but dangerous refuge for the homeless who typically light fires inside rooms to keep warm.

Leverett said that the department is on high alert for additional calls as temperatures were expected to bottom-out in the teens overnight Monday and Tuesday.

While dangerous for both the occupants and the responding firefighters, the destruction of the city's vacant, dilapidated housing stock is a plus for city officials who have spent close to a $1 million over the last three years condemning, demolishing and clearing hundreds of structures.